Pawsibilities aims to connect individuals from underrepresented backgrounds interested in the veterinary profession to both opportunities available and to potential mentors and advisors within the field.

BACKGROUND

Groups underrepresented in veterinary medicine: individuals that identify within a sociological category that is discriminated against and whose advancement in the profession has historically been disproportionately impacted by this category. This includes gender, race, ethnicity, geographic, socioeconomic, religion, disability status and educational disadvantage. Examples:

  • Individuals from non-Caucasian race and ethnic backgrounds such as Hispanic/Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and those of two or more races
  • Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds
  • Non-heterosexual individuals
  • Individuals with disabilities

Non-Hispanic Caucasians currently make up 86% of the veterinary profession, while Asian, Hispanic and African American/ Black veterinarians make up 6, 4 and 2% respectively.

The AAVMC reports that for 2017, 78% of veterinary students enrolled in U.S. Colleges of Veterinary Medicine were Caucasian, 2.5% black, 4.8% Asian and 5.4% Latino/ Hispanic. The AAVMC reports that for 2020, 76% of veterinary students were Caucasian, 3% African American/ black, 5.5% Asian and 7.5% Latinx/ Hispanic.

In terms of applicants, the AAVMC reports that in 2016 78% of applicants were Caucasian, 4.4% were African American/black, 7.6% were Asian and 10.7% were Hispanic. In 2020, 75% of applicants were Caucasian, 3.4% were African American/black, 3.7% were Asian and 10.4% were Hispanic.

Veterinary medicine is one of the least diverse professions in the United States. For this disparity to end, more students from diverse backgrounds must enter and remain in the veterinary path. Pawsibilities is a web and mobile platform designed to aid in the recruitment and retention of diverse students in the veterinary profession through resources, discussion forums and the showcasing of diverse veterinarians. Pawsibilities pools available resources and provides information about veterinary medicine to educate students about the myriad of paths they may take within the profession. It also provides a forum to discuss the various challenges and pitfalls on the path to becoming a veterinarian. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Pawsibilities showcases veterinarians from a variety of backgrounds, to emphasize that anyone from anywhere can be a veterinarian. From these interactions, we aim to give students a smoother path along their career, as well as a sense of belonging in veterinary medicine. Pawsibilities is a useful tool for pre-veterinary students, veterinary students and veterinarians to find their place in the profession and share it with others.

Mentorship is crucial to a successful career. A great mentor can inspire and elevate someone to new heights for everyone’s betterment, while a poor supervisor kills dreams in cradle. Despite this critical importance to a profession, there are shockingly few resources devoted to developing mentorship skills in veterinary medicine. Our field would benefit greatly from instruction at every point in a veterinarian’s career. Before we even become veterinarians, students must learn to identify great mentors, the people who will help us grow as people and professionals, while eschewing those who would write us off or drive us away.

Veterinarian demographics

Veterinary student and applicant demographics

What is Pawsibilities?

Pawsibilities aims to connect individuals from underrepresented backgrounds interested in the veterinary profession to both opportunities available and to potential mentors and advisors within the field.

Goals and Vision:

  • The recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups to the veterinary profession. This will be achieved through:
  • Positive mentoring experiences
  • Building a veterinary network
  • Exposure to individuals with similar experiences
  • Career growth
  • Developing leaders

How will we do this?

  • Pairing of mentors and mentees will be done using an algorithm weighting the things YOU consider important in a mentor/ mentee relationship
  • A venue for in person and virtual networking opportunities with pre-veterinary students, veterinary students, and veterinarians
  • Education on careers in veterinary medicine
  • Education on skills such as mentoring, leadership and public speaking
  • Education on the diversity of the veterinary profession, both in terms of the careers available and the people that make it up
  • Story-telling – tell your story and hear others tell theirs!

First, you will complete training on mentorship, diversity and inclusion. Then, create a profile with any information you think is valuable to your mentorship. Then you can either look up your list of suggested mentors or find your own based on characteristics that are important to you. Mentorship can be as involved or laid back as you need it to be. We ask that you stay in touch with your mentor/mentee and check in at least once per month – a text will suffice! Sign up to become a mentor or mentee here.

We will have one or more educational or networking event(s) offered per month. We ask that you attend at least two educational events per year. 


Our story

  • March 2018

    Pawsibilities is first envisioned at an Animal Health Hackathon at the University of Georgia.

  • Summer 2018

    Pawsibilities goes through the University of Georgia’s NSF iCorps program

  • Fall 2018

    Valerie and Seth explore ways to build the Pawsibilities platform

  • 2019-2020

    Valerie and Seth finish their DVM and PhD, respectively

  • June 2020

    • A preliminary survey reveals over 200 individuals interested in veterinary mentorship
    • After an extensive search, Pawsibilities selects Graduway Inc to provide the mentoring platform
  • July 2020

    • Pawsibilities is incorporated as a non-profit in North Carolina
    • files for 501(c)(3) status
    • begins building an advisory board.
  • August 2020

    Pawsibilities soft-launches with two pilot periods and over 50 testers during a four week period

  • September 2020

    • Pawsibilities receives 501(c)(3) status
    • Full public launch of Pawsibilities on September 21, 2020
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